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Old October 28th 04, 01:20 AM
Jonathan Ganz
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Default OT for those who want to vote (long)

Do not be intimidated into not voting

Do not let anyone intimidate you into not voting. You have the right
to vote. If your polling place does not show you as registered, insist
on a provisional ballot. The polling place is required by law to
provide it. If you have a problem and need help call 866-OUR-VOTE from
the polling place for assistance.


If you vote with a provisional ballot

If, on election day, you end up voting with a provisional ballot
because your polling place does not show you as being registered to
vote, you have the right to learn whether your ballot was counted.
Each state must set up an easy way for you to check, like a toll-free
phone number or a Web site. If your vote was not counted, the state
must tell you why it wasn't.


5 Things You Need to Know on Election Day and Why They Matter
From (League of Women Voters)

1) Your Ballot, Your Vote
Don't panic if you registered to vote but your name is not on the
list. Get help from a poll worker to make sure your vote is counted.
You may be directed to another polling place or given a provisional

Provisional/interim/conditional ballots are intended as a safeguard
for voters whose eligibility is in question on Election Day. These
include those whose voter registration is in doubt, those who may have
been erroneously purged, or first-time voters who registered by mail
and have I.D. problems.

The Help America Vote Act (HAVA) requires that provisional ballots be
counted if the voter is eligible to vote by state law. However, some
election officials have chosen to apply standards for counting
provisional ballots that are unrelated to voter eligibility, such as
casting the provisional ballot in the proper polling place and filling
out the enclosing envelope correctly. Provisional ballots are the
safety net so that no voter coming to the polls will be turned away.

However, provisional ballots should not be considered a backup for
poor polling place operations or a catch-all for all problematic
situations. Election officials should make every effort before the
election to reduce the need for numerous provisional ballots, by
improving the registration system and by other means to allow the
voter to cast an ordinary/regular ballot. Too many provisional ballots
will increase the post-election administrative burden on election
officials and delay election results.

2) I.D. . Don't Go Without It
You may need to show I.D. To be safe, bring your driver's license, or
a paycheck, utility bill or government document that includes your
name and street address.

HAVA requires that first-time voters who register by mail present I.D.
prior to voting on Election Day unless the state has already verified
their identity. Unfortunately, many states have gone further, and are
requiring all voters or all first-time voters to present I.D. In
addition, while HAVA says that the application of the new requirement
must be "uniform and non-discriminatory," many states have neither
established mechanisms for ensuring uniform and non-discriminatory
application, nor informed the public as to what forms of I.D. are
acceptable in their state. Because this is a new requirement, it could
lead to problems such as unequal and discriminatory treatment, and
ultimately lead to wrongful disenfranchisement on Election Day.

3) Writing on the Wall
Look at the signs at the polling place for directions on how to use
the voting machines, a list of your voting rights, and instructions
for filing a complaint if your rights have been violated.

Voters will face many changes in the polling place this year. Many
will experience new procedures, some will see new equipment, others
will see the same equipment as before but now wonder if they failed to
cast their vote properly, and many will be first-time voters. To
address these realities, HAVA also requires that basic voting
information be posted in the polling place. Election officials should
work with design and usability professionals to ensure the readability
of the information they're providing in the polling place.
Information/instructions should be written clearly and simply and
provide illustrations. Voting machine instructions should include how
a voter can review his or her ballot, and how to check for overvotes
and undervotes. And, information regarding what constitutes a spoiled
ballot and instructions for securing a new ballot should be provided.

4) When in Doubt . Ask
Poll workers are there to help you. They'll show you how to work the
machines and give you a provisional ballot if you need one. If you're
at the wrong polling place, they should tell you how to get to the
right one.

Poll workers are volunteers from the local area, who are committed to
helping voters. Ultimately, the successful administration of elections
lies in the hands of poll workers. However, in too many cases, there
are too few of them and/or they have not received the necessary tools
from election officials. Such tools include appropriate training,
easily searched reference information to answer questions, and the
official list of all voters, with their polling place identified, for
the election registrar's entire jurisdiction.

5) In and Out
You probably won't have to wait too long. But even if the line is
long, don't leave without voting. The outcome of this election will be

Many voters state that they don't have time to vote and that's why
they haven't participated in the past. Creating a sense of a positive
voting experience and giving voters the tools they need to achieve
this . such as the League's 3 Ways to Make Voting a Breeze . will go a
long way in increasing voter turnout. The League is urging TV and
radio stations to help with this by giving regular updates on Election
Day on wait times at polling places in their area.


Know What to Do if You Experience Election Day Problems

Call toll free --- 1-866-Our-Vote --- to report problems and to
receive advice on what to do. This hotline is being operated by the
Election Protection Coalition, which is composed of many organizations
including the League of Women Voters.


Before You Vote
The New York Times
October 26, 2004

Before You Vote

Election officials and watchdog groups advise voters to verify where
their polling place is, ask whether they need to show identification
to vote, and find out whether the jurisdiction allows them to vote
with a provisional ballot even if they show up in the wrong precinct
or district.

Most voters should receive essential information in the mail, but can
also call the local elections board for help. Sample ballots are
printed in many newspapers and can also be obtained at the polling

Several Web sites can alert voters to their rights. These include

A coalition of public-interest groups has set up a toll-free hot line
(866) OUR-VOTE
to offer advice and dispatch a lawyer or other volunteer to polling

Common Cause has also established a toll-free hot line at
866-MY-VOTE1. By entering a ZIP code, voters can be connected to their
local elections boards. (Be advised that this group also says it may
share calls with the news media.)

Jonathan Ganz (j gan z @ $ail no w.c=o=m)
"If there's no wind, row."

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